Sunday, July 17, 2011

Department of Motor Inefficiency

Well, I just spent the last 4 hours at the immigration bureau getting my visa renewed, which is basically the equivalent of the DMV with a much more diverse people group that all speak different languages, so obviously my afternoon has been well spent!!! I feel as though the existence of the DMV in America should be the main argument for how horrible socialism/big government would be the downfall of our country. Has there ever been a good story that came from visiting the DMV? Is there anyone is existence that has ever come away from a trip to the DMV saying "I feel so much better now, my spirits are really lifted?!?!?" Anyway, enough of my government efficiency rant...

Sad news to all of you Veggie Tale lovers out there... I didn't get to go to Cebu last week...:(. Major bummer I know!!! A quick recap of my trip last week...

My two bosses and I flew out of Manila airport to a small little city on the island of Negroes called Bacolod. A wonderful CCT employee met us at the airport and brought us to our hotel. The next 4 days were a barrage of 4 hour drives and meetings with various SCA facilitators in the area. I quickly discovered just how beautiful this part of the Philippines is. I'll try and post some pictures later, but the weather was perfect all week and the city of Bacolod was surrounded by beautiful mountains and farm fields everywhere. One of the highlights of the week was when we drove a couple hours out to a little small town. We literally had to drive over and through 2 different mountains to get to this little town. Once at the town, we met with a small group of potential savings group members for about 2 hours.

It was really great to get a break from the incredibly busy life of a 17 million person city like Manila. One of the differences I saw immediately was just how bad the poverty in Manila is compared to poverty outside of the city. In Bacolod, the people were poor, but they still lived reasonably clean lives, and had much more land and places for the children to run and play safely. Their homes and neighborhoods were much cleaner and smelled more like nature than anything else. Contrast that scene with the enormous slums in Manila and it shows just how bad poverty is in Manila, where the average slum holds about 500 people per acre. The biggest difference in these two different kinds of poverty is the smell. The metro Manila slums smell of feces, blood, and straight garbage; quite different from the more natural smells of rural poverty.

Despite the nice break from Manila, the trip to Bacolod was incredibly exhausting. We had to work through a couple major problems with some of the facilitators and spent the entire 4 days either driving somewhere or meeting with someone. The biggest surprise of the entire week had to be Friday night when we flew back to Manila. I had expected to become attached to this country and the people, but walking into my apartment felt more like home than I ever thought possible. Even being away from "home" for only 4 days, made me long all the more for the familiarity in my neighborhood of "Vito Cruz". Being in a foreign country can be exhausting and more stressful that I ever realized, but I was amazed at how much more exhausting and stressful it was in a new and strange place like Bacolod. Although I miss my home, family, friends, and school more than anything in the world, it has been comforting to see how the Lord has been moving and answering prayer in such a way as to provide a "home" for me here.

A couple of random notes about flying the Philippines...
1. The safety video on Philippine Airlines was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. It took everything within me to keep from bursting out laughing while they showed it. You know how most safety videos are just some flight attendants showing you how to buckle a seat belt? Well, this video was like a drama with a poor helpless Filipino passenger showcasing what not to do on an airplane. Whenever he did something wrong the flight attendants would pounce on him and catch him in the act. It was soooo funny!!!

2. Airport security here is not quite up to American standards. Upon entering the airport on our way back to Manila I had some ticket difficulty so I had to enter and exit the airport 3 times. Every single time I went back through the original safety check I forgot to take out my keys and the buzzer went off, but every single time no security guard seemed to care! I could have gone through 3 straight times with a gun in my pocket and no one would have noticed. So then we went through the main security to the terminal and the person who was in charge of looking at the x-rays of all our bags had her child in her lap letting her push the buttons and look at all the bags!!! I thought this was awesome and thought how much people would freak out if it happened in America...

This week I'm heading to the island of Palawan for 3 days for some more meetings. Based on the pictures and word of mouth, it looks like I am in for quite the treat next week.


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